Ann-Christine and I share a love of trees. I’m glad for her challenge subject today.
Much of the wisdom of the natural world is about how to sustain life in harmony with others. It turns out that Trees are no exception. They share a unique kind of communication via threads of fungi and operate as a living community. That discovery changes the way I see forests and individual trees completely.
“A tree can be only as strong as the forest that surrounds it.”
“It appears that nutrient exchange and helping neighbors in times of need is the rule, and this leads to the conclusion that forests are superorganisms with interconnections much like ant colonies.”
“We have learned that mother trees recognize and talk with their kin, shaping future generations. In addition, injured trees pass their legacies on to their neighbors, affecting gene regulation, defense chemistry, and resilience in the forest community.”
“If a tree falls in the forest there are other trees listening.”
I feel now more than ever how important it is to conserve larger tracts of land containing whole forests, especially mature growth forests. It’s not enough to plant a tree in the yard. Trees are the lungs of the planet, breathing the oxygen that we all depend on into our world.
“An organism that is too greedy and takes too much without giving anything in return destroys what it needs for life.”
Have you thanked a forest today?
The Earth is a vastly fascinating place! You may think of rocks and trees and animals as familiar things, but they are often as unknown and otherworldly as specimens from Mars.
Here’s an example of a cave formation in Wind Cave National Park known as “boxwork”. Could be the surface of a distant planet, don’t you think?
Could these be aerial photos of alien landscapes? Or the skins and bodies of alien life forms?
Does this structure look like something you’ve seen before?
This one could be a satellite image of life on a distant moon. The startling discovery of unfamiliar living things is possible in your own back yard. Go take a look!
The Word Press Daily Post Photo Challenge states: “As we sift through fleeting status updates, toss yet another egg carton in the recycling bin, and watch as seasons change around the world, it can seem like life is made of constant change.”
Well, isn’t it?
And maybe, to step outside of constant change is to see constant continuation. Thich Nhat Hahn doesn’t celebrate his birthday, he calls it a “continuation day”.
If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people. To be born means that something which did not exist comes into existence. But the day we are “born” is not our beginning. It is a day of continuation. But that should not make us less happy when we celebrate our “Happy Continuation Day.” Since we are never born, how can we cease to be? This is what the Heart Sutra reveals to us. When we have tangible experience of non-birth and non-death, we know ourselves beyond duality. The meditation on “no separate self” is one way to pass through the gate of birth and death. Your hand proves that you have never been born and you will never die. The thread of life has never been interrupted from time without beginning until now. Previous generations, all the way back to single cell beings, are present in your hand at this moment. You can observe and experience this. Your hand is always available as a subject for meditation.
–Thich Nhat Hanh, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment
Continuation and endurance are kindred concepts. It’s not about effort, it’s about the flow of life: life to life.
And now, for my illustration. Sequoia sempervirens, the coastal redwood. Amongst the oldest living things on earth, the species includes the tallest living trees on the planet. This particular tree is located in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, about 25 miles from the house I lived in as a high school student, where my brother lives now. It’s nicknamed The Grandfather.
If these trees continue to exist in 50 years, they may exist for a thousand. If they’re gone in 10 years, they’ll be gone forever. Redwoods reproduce by seed cone and asexually through lignotubers, called ‘burls’. Redwood burls are beautiful swirls of richly colored wood when they are sliced open. Unfortunately, poachers take these burls for decorative furniture and cut off the reproductive possibilities. Here’s an article describing how 2 men were arrested and charged for poaching redwood burls in a National Park.
What will endure for the next generation? How do I choose my path, living in continuation and protecting continuation in all life on our interconnected planet?
Today’s prompt says, “With an intuitive approach, I considered the photos’ subject matter and graphic attributes and chose those that resonated with each other, creating cross-dependencies and visual analogies. They’re combinations that tell a story.
The resulting dialogue — they story they tell — is the creation of each viewer’s individual perception.
It’s your turn now: for this week’s challenge, bring together two of your photos into dialogue. What do they say to each other?”